Chanting the Holy Name of the Lord

Srila Prabhupada showered with flowers

The Following is a very nice verse from the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta about the importance of Chanting the Holy Name of the Lord. Following that is the verse which describes the importance of chanting the names śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda before chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and the ten kinds of offenses which should be avoided.

…”Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.” (Antya-lila 4.71)

Similarly, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has praised the chanting of the holy name as follows in his Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (Chapter One, verse 9)

“All glories, all glories to the all-blissful holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which causes the devotee to give up all conventional religious duties, meditation and worship. When somehow or other uttered even once by a living entity, the holy name awards him liberation. The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is the highest nectar. It is my very life and my only treasure.”

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta 1975 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Antya-lila 4.71

Sanatana Gosvami Visits the Lord at Jagannatha Puri

tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana

tāra madhye—of the nine different types of devotional service; sarva-śreṣṭha—the most important of all; nāma-saṅkīrtana—chanting of the holy name of the Lord; niraparādhe—without offenses; nāma laile—if one chants the holy name; pāya—he gets; prema-dhana—the most valuable ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa.

“Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.”

Purport
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu gives the following directions in his Bhakti-sandarbha (270):

iyaṁ ca kīrtanākhyā bhaktir bhagavato dravya-jāti-guṇa-kriyābhir dīna-janaika-viṣayāpāra-karuṇā-mayīti śruti-purāṇādi-viśrutiḥ. ataeva kalau svabhāvata evātidīneṣu lokeṣu āvirbhūya tān anāyāsenaiva tat tad yuga-gata-mahā-sādhanānāṁ sarvam eva phalaṁ dadānā sā kṛtārthayati. yata eva tayaiva kalau bhagavato viśeṣataś ca santoṣo bhavati.

“Chanting the holy name is the chief means of attaining love of Godhead. This chanting or devotional service does not depend on any paraphernalia, nor on one’s having taken birth in a good family. By humility and meekness one attracts the attention of Kṛṣṇa. That is the verdict of all the Vedas. Therefore if one becomes very humble and meek, he can easily attain the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa in this age of Kali. That is the fulfillment of all great sacrifices, penances and austerities because when one achieves ecstatic love of Godhead, he attains the complete perfection of life. Therefore whatever one does in executing devotional service must be accompanied with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord.” The chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa-Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare-has been praised by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Nāmāṣṭaka (verse 1):

nikhila-śruti-mauli-ratna-mālā-
dyuti-nīrājita-pāda-paṅkajānta
ayi mukta-kulair upāsyamānaṁ
paritas tvāṁ hari-nāma saṁśrayāmi

“O Hari-nāma! The tips of the toes of Your lotus feet are constantly being worshiped by the glowing radiance emanating from the string of gems known as the Upaniṣads, the crown jewels of all the Vedas. You are eternally adored by liberated souls such as Nārada and Śukadeva. O Hari-nāma! I take complete shelter of You.”

Similarly, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has praised the chanting of the holy name as follows in his Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta (Chapter One, verse 9):

jayati jayati nāmānanda-rūpaṁ murārer
viramita-nija-dharma-dhyāna-pūjādi-yatnam
kathamapi sakṛd-āttaṁ muktidaṁ prāṇīnāṁ yat
paramam amṛtam ekaṁ jīvanaṁ bhūṣaṇaṁ me

“All glories, all glories to the all-blissful holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, which causes the devotee to give up all conventional religious duties, meditation and worship. When somehow or other uttered even once by a living entity, the holy name awards him liberation. The holy name of Kṛṣṇa is the highest nectar. It is my very life and my only treasure.”

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.1.11) Śukadeva Gosvāmī says:

etan nirvidyamānānām
icchatām akuto-bhayam
yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ
harer nāmānukīrtanam

“O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.”

Similarly, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said in His Śikṣāṣṭaka(3):

tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ

“One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street. One should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”

Regarding the ten offenses in chanting the holy name… the following verse from Ādi-līlā, Chapter Eight, verse 24… is as follows

Ten Offenses

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta 1975 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Adi-lila 8.24

‘kṛṣṇa-nāma’ kare aparādhera vicāra
kṛṣṇa balile aparādhīra nā haya vikāra

kṛṣṇa-nāma—the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa; kare—takes; aparādhera—of offenses; vicāra—consideration; kṛṣṇa—Lord Kṛṣṇa; balile—if one chants; aparādhīra—of the offenders; nā—never; haya—becomes; vikāra—changed.

There are offenses to be considered while chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Therefore simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa one does not become ecstatic.

Purport
It is very beneficial to chant the names śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda before chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra because by chanting these two holy names-śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya prabhu-nityānanda-one immediately becomes ecstatic, and if he then chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra he becomes free of offenses.

There are ten offenses to avoid in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. The first offense is to blaspheme great personalities who are engaged in distributing the holy name of the Lord. It is said in the śāstra (Cc. Antya 7.11), kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana: one cannot distribute the holy names of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra unless he is empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore one should not criticize or blaspheme a devotee who is thus engaged.

Śrī Padma Purāṇa states:

satāṁ nindā nāmnaḥ paramam aparādhaṁ vitanute
yataḥ khyātiṁ yātaṁ katham u sahate tad-vigarhām

To blaspheme the great saintly persons who are engaged in preaching the glories of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra is the worst offense at the lotus feet of the holy name. One should not criticize a preacher of the glories of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. If one does so, he is an offender. The Nāma-prabhu, who is identical with Kṛṣṇa, will never tolerate such blasphemous activities, even from one who passes as a great devotee.

The second nāmāparādha is described as follows:

śivasya śrī-viṣṇor ya iha guṇa-nāmādi-sakalaṁ
dhiyā bhinnaṁ paśyet sa khalu hari-nāmāhita-karaḥ

In this material world, the holy name of Viṣṇu is all-auspicious. Viṣṇu’s name, form, qualities and pastimes are all transcendental, absolute knowledge. Therefore, if one tries to separate the Absolute Personality of Godhead from His holy name or His transcendental form, qualities and pastimes, thinking them to be material, that is offensive. Similarly, to think the names of demigods such as Lord Śiva to be as good as the name of Lord Viṣṇu-or, in other words, to think Lord Śiva and the other demigods to be other forms of God and therefore equal to Viṣṇu-is also blasphemous. This is the second offense at the lotus feet of the Lord.

The third offense at the lotus feet of the holy name, which is called guror avajñā, is to consider the spiritual master to be material and therefore envy his exalted position.

The fourth offense (śruti-śāstra-nindanam) is to blaspheme Vedic scriptures such as the four Vedas and the Puraṇas.

The fifth offense (artha-vādaḥ) is to consider the glories of the holy name to be exaggerations. Similarly, the sixth offense (hari-nāmni kalpanam) is to consider the holy name of the Lord to be imaginary.

The seventh offense is described as follows:

nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhir
na vidyate tasya yamair hi śuddhiḥ

To think that since the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra can counteract all sinful reactions one may therefore go on with his sinful activities and at the same time chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra to neutralize them is the greatest offense at the lotus feet of hari-nāma.

The eighth offense is stated thus:

dharma-vrata-tyāga-hutādi-sarva-
śubha-kriyā-sāmyam api pramādaḥ

It is offensive to consider the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra to be a religious ritualistic ceremony. Performing religious ceremonies, following vows and practicing renunciation and sacrifice are all materialistic auspicious activities. The chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra must not be compared to such materialistic religiosity.This is an offense at the lotus feet of the Lord.

The ninth offense is described as follows:

aśraddadhāne vimukhe ‘py aśṛṇvati
yaś copadeśaḥ śiva-nāmāparādhaḥ

It is an offense to preach the glories of the holy name among persons who have no intelligence or no faith in the subject matter. Such people should be given the chance to hear the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, but in the beginning they should not be instructed about the glories or the spiritual significance of the holy name. By constant hearing of the holy name, their hearts will be purified, and then they will be able to understand the transcendental position of the holy name.

The tenth offense is as follows:

śrute ‘pi nāma-māhātmye yaḥ prīti-rahito naraḥ
ahaṁ-mamādi-paramo nāmni so ‘py aparādha-kṛt

If one has heard the glories of the transcendental holy name of the Lord but nevertheless continues in a materialistic concept of life, thinking “I am this body and everything belonging to this body is mine [ahaṁ mameti],” and does not show respect and love for the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, that is an offense.

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